White House Unveils Reforms to Slash Legal Immigration Levels

Trump, senators to unveil skills-based immigration bill | Democrats surge ahead on generic ballot: poll

On Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump unveiled controversial legislation aimed at reducing legal immigration in the United States.

In a Wednesday news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump announced alongside Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) that the United States would look to tweak its current immigration system.

He said the new system would "favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy".

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To achieve the reductions and create what they call a "merit-based system", Cotton and Perdue are taking aim at green cards for extended family members of US citizens and legal permanent residents, limiting such avenues for grown children and siblings.

We remind the country that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was a civil rights act that overturned the racist quota system that gave preference to Northern and Western European immigrants.

The changes proposed in their bill, called the RAISE Act, would be the "biggest change in 50 years" to the immigration system, Trump said, and reflect the administration's "compassion for struggling American families that deserve an immigrant system that puts their needs first". Senator Lindsey Graham, from SC, said his state is dependent on immigrant labor to sustain the two biggest sectors of the economy, agriculture and tourism. The plan, as NPR reports, is "opposed by business groups, which rely on low-skilled workers for agriculture and other jobs".

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Mr. Cotton said the current immigration system is "an obsolete disaster" in which only 1 immigrant in 15 comes to the US due to their job skills.

The bill would also aim to slash the number of refugees in half and eliminate a program that provides visas to countries with low rates of immigration. "Second, it cleans up our tangle of employment-based immigration categories by creating a streamlined points system designed to select exceptional talents".

It's not clear how much support there is in the Senate for such a bill. The chart below from Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok shows just how misguided a more restrictive immigration policy would be from a purely demographic perspective - just imagine the long-run hit to growth.

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"Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal - to cut legal immigration in half - would put their businesses in peril", he said in a statement. They say the legislation would disproportionately affect immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and African and Caribbean countries. "This is different than illegal immigration". "What the merit-based system would do is bring our immigration policy more in line with what's good for American workers and taxpayers, so that's the overarching goal, and that I'm sure is the driving force behind talks with Congress and these senators".

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